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Lost or stolen Android phone? Here's how to get it back



It may happen in a few seconds: You leave your phone on a disk in the store and go away, or someone bumps you into the street and takes your phone straight out of your pocket or bag.

Losing a phone, whether it is theft or an honest mistake, is a stressful experience. Not only do you break your access to the rest of the world, but your phone contains some of your most personal information.

If your phone is missing, don't panic! There are tools built into all Android phones that allow you to easily lock and track a lost phone. But first, you need to take some steps to set yourself up for success.

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How to find lost Android phone



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Create a secure lock screen

Do yourself a favor and enable passwords and fingerprint authentication. Do yourself another service and do not use face recognition on your Android device.

The technology used for face recognition on most Android devices can easily be tricked with something as simple as a photo of your face. Face authentication can be more secure if Android Q actually adds official support for secure face-ID-like authentication to Android that reports have suggested .

Next. create your password and set fingerprint authentication in the setup app in the Security section. I realize that you are scanning a fingerprint or entering a PIN every time you want to use the phone may be inconvenient, but the idea that someone has access to your photos, bank apps, emails and the rest of your personal information is quite scary. [19659003] An additional step to unlocking your phone is worth the effort when considering the potential impact of exposing your personal information to a stranger.

Google's find my device

  google-find-my-device

Make sure Google's search my device is turned on.


Screenshots of Jason Cipriani / CNET

When you sign in to an Android device with a Google Account, Search My Device is already on. Find My device is what you should use if your phone is ever missing for tracking, remote locking and remote control.

You can check that Search my device is enabled by opening the Settings app and going to Security and location > Find my device . Alternatively, if your device does not have a security and location option, go to Google > Security > Find My Device .

Find my device to put on. If not, slide the switch to in the position and exit the Setup app.

Samsung Find My Mobile

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If you have signed in to your Samsung account on a Galaxy phone you should be good to go. However, it is a good idea to double check.


Screenshots of Jason Cipriani / CNET

If you have a Samsung phone, in addition to Google's Search My Device service, you can – and should – set up Samsung's Find My Mobile service. It not only provides a backup service to track a lost phone, but it also gives you tools that don't find my device.

With Samsung's service you can do things that force remote backup or see if someone has replaced your SIM card. You must have a Samsung account to use Find My Mobile.

On your Samsung phone, open Settings and go to Biometrics and Security > Find My Mobile . If you signed in to your Samsung account during the installation of the original device, Find My Mobile must already be enabled. If not, take a few seconds to log in to your Samsung account and activate Find my mobile.

Lock remote control, track a lost phone

Use Find my device

Play a sound, lock the phone or delete it with the website Search my device.


Screenshot of Jason Cipriani / CNET

Using Android's embedded service, you need to remember one thing: android.com/find. That site is where you will go in the unfortunate event that you lose your phone. Make sure you sign in to the same Google Account linked to your Android phone.

Not near a computer? You can use another Android device and the Find My Device app that you need to download separately from the Play Store. Immediately after you sign in to the site or app, Google will try to search for your phone.

A warning is sent to your phone to tell the person who has it as it is being tracked. Use the menu on the left side of the Find My Device page to play a sound (useful if you have missed it in your home!), Unlock the device or erase the device completely.

Selecting a secure device locks your phone, displays a message you select on the lock screen, and logs out of your Google Account. Don't worry, you can still find the phone when it's locked. If you use Google Pay for Mobile payments, your phone prevents anyone from using your phone to make a purchase.

If you use the Delete Device feature, you can no longer track the phone when it has been deleted. Reserve this feature as a last resort.

If the thief turns off the phone, you will not be able to track it until it is turned on and has a mobile or Wi-Fi connection. Google will send you an email when it has found your device.

Samsung users

Samsung's Find My Mobile has many options to track and control a lost phone.


Screenshot of Jason Cipriani / CNET

Samsung Galaxy owners have the advantage of using Google's or Samsung's respective services to find a lost device, but I recommend using Samsung's offer. As you can see below, the extra features are invaluable.

To track a lost device with Samsung's service, you need to visit findmymobile.samsung.com. There is no buddy app, so you need to use a mobile browser on another phone or computer.

Sign in with your Samsung account and then select your lost device on the left side of the screen. A map will show where the phone is and a menu of options will appear on the right side of the screen.

Start by locking the phone, showing a personal message on the lock screen, turning off your Samsung Pay Card and preventing the phone from turning off.

Then create a backup of your phone. Should you lose it for good, you want a current backup of your phone. If the phone moves places, use the Track Location feature.

Enabling this feature tracks the phone every 15 minutes. Finally, enable the Extend Battery Life feature – this almost disables everything on the phone, outside the location tracking.

Conflict not thieves

If the phone has been stolen and you can track its location, do not try to restore it yourself. Doing so can lead to you or someone else being injured, and even though the phone is important, it's simply not worth it.

Contact local law enforcement instead and let them know that you need help to restore a lost or stolen phone that you have been able to trace to a particular address.

Contact your carrier, write an insurance claim

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Contact your carrier to submit an insurance claim as soon as you realize that You do not get your phone back.


Sarah Tew / CNET

If it becomes clear that you will never get your phone back, contact your operator and report your phone as lost or stolen. Doing this will blacklist your phone from the carrier's database and prevent another from using it.

When you call, your operator also wants to cancel your service. This is a good idea if you want to prevent someone from using your phone. Keep in mind, though, that if you still track your lost phone, you will lose a mobile connection to it – and unless your phone is registered on a Wi-Fi network, you will lose track of it.

Finally, if you pay for insurance on your phone, you must apply and pay the deductible to get your replacement phone. Get the insurance claim process started through your carrier, which will then probably refer you to the third insurance company that will replace your phone.

Good luck! We hope you never have to go through the emotional funicular to lose a phone, track it and try to get it back.


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